Joe Bates, Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan seemed to be feeling nostalgic this S/S 14. Their West Side Story themed collection riffed on the idea of youth tribes. Those, of course, are central to the history of London menswear – they hark back to a time when clothes were used as a way of expressing personal views on politics, music, sexuality and even religion. We’ve lost that relationship with our wardrobes today. Most of us no longer use fashion to try to make ourselves stand out, but rather employ it to help us fit in. We all want a bit of ‘the next big thing’, the latest gimmick or gadget to help us feel included. The Sibling trio had, in their own way, toyed with that idea as well, by crafting knits out of those colourful stiff plastic strings that can be used to make ‘Scoobie’ friendship bracelets and key rings– they were one of those crazes, alongside Pokemon cards and yo-yos that spread through schools like wild fire, stamping a badge of cool on those who had them and inspiring intense jealously in those who didn’t (emotions fashion is equally good at provoking in adulthood).
Interestingly, Sibling straddle these two fashion approaches perfectly. On one hand their work is all about rebellion and personal expression – see last season’s ode to punk - and on the other it is about making people want to be part of their cool London gang by selling them street-style friendly sweaters and feel-good knits. This season they were leaning ever more so towards the latter ethos by incorporating denim pieces, including jackets emblazoned with gang slogans, into their repertoire, giving the collection a wearability and accessibility that hasn’t always shone through in their menswear.
Stand out pieces from this showing included the knits crafted in collaboration with artist Richard Woods. These were wonderfully graphic – and will undoubtedly be worn by the East London fashion pack with as much pride and honour as those original gang fashions. All in all, this was an appropriately strong and concise showing given that the trio were celebrating the fifth anniversary of their men’s knitwear line. And celebrate they did, despite the theme of gang war, they’d instructed their models to smile and roused their sleepy audience with a cheery burst of ‘America’. Let’s hope the trio weren’t being too literal in their song choice and isn’t genuinely considering a transatlantic migration – the London schedule just wouldn’t be as fun without them.